This afternoon, I learnt so many fascinating things about Maguro (Japanese for Bluefin Tuna) while interviewing manager David Lim at Japan’s renowned maguro and sashimi wholesaler, who have finally come to Singapore for the first time. I’m talking about the name you’ll probably struggle to remember — Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi& Dining.
But trust me, you’re not likely to forget their maguro anytime soon. I can’t wait to share some things you never knew about the most popular fish used in sushi and sashimi around the world!
In Japan, the average queuing time it would take for you to get in the restaurant is over an hour and it gets its fresh supply of the best maguro from the Miura Misaki harbour, a landmark of Japan where fantastic maguro abounds all year round. David tells me why the taste of the fish there is exceptional.
How the Maguro is Caught
First, a maguro master is on deck to cull high-quality tuna from the catch, Then, the chefs practice shinkei-jime, which is the Japanese tradition of inserting a spike into the hind brain and destroying the spinal cord. Doing so would stop the production of lactic acid, retaining the quality and flavour of the fish.
Fun fact — Bluefin Tuna isn’t actually blue in colour. It’s actually black on top and silver at the bottom! Why it appears blue is because it reflects sunlight in the blue water. It’s black colour actually helps keep it camouflaged in the deep water.
Also, Bluefin Tuna can grow up to 400 kilograms. Imagine a tuna heavier than 5 grown men! The restaurant uses tuna that is roughly 100kg or so for the best balance of quality and cost.
Flash-Frozen at 60C
The tuna is then kept almost immediately in a -60C freezer to maintain its freshness all year round. If you want to taste the same quality of maguro and sashimi to rival the best in Japan, you have to unveil the locals’ best-kept secret — heading down to one of the 17 Maguro Donya outlets in Japan. But we’re lucky enough to get it right in our sunny island because of this crucial piece of freezing technology! This is because at the Miura Misaki market, they don’t go by a bidding system like Tsukiji Market does which really drives prices up for restaurants.
Direct Air Freight to Singapore!
With its own fleet of fishing trawlers that enable them to curate the freshest bits to fly around the world, we also get them flown directly anytime via ANA air freight, which ensures freshness and affordability.
Now for some more interesting dishes apart from the amazing quality of affordable akami, chutoro and toro sashimi and sushi..
Let’s start with this Megumi Hon Maguro Gunkan ($18). Gunkan is Japanese for battleship and this bad boy has definitely won my heart. The tuna belly mountains are perched on two rice ball, making it resemble one large heap of otoro atop a mountain. I initially thought it was a terrible waste to mince otoro this way. But once I had this baby in my mouth, boy did I change my mind. The softer texture actually made the flavour even more intense! And here’s a tip on getting the best flavour out of this gunkan — split it in the middle with a chopstick, leaving a bit of wasabi for each half. Then dip the sliced pickled ginger into the bonito shoyu before spreading the sauce over the rice for that wonderful savoury flavour without the rice ball breaking apart. This truly is heaven in the mouth.
Next, David served up some Kamayaki or Grilled Tuna Collar.
The minute he cut into that freshly-grilled, piping hot collar, the juices and oils started oozing out from the sides. It was seriously tuna like I’d never had it before. The flavour was overwhelming, the texture a perfect combination of melt-in-your-mouth yet firm enough for the layers to break apart with a fork. This was definitely one of the highlights for me.
I was definitely someone who grew up hating maguro for its mushy texture and slightly pungent taste. But that’s because I never really had the opportunity to taste truly top-grade tuna back then. It’s such a privilege to FINALLY get amazing maguro here in Singapore by a specialist that knows what they’re doing, so definitely give this a shot and I promise.. you’re unlikely to turn back. Have fun!